There are so many dog food options out there, and it can seem daunting to try to decide which food is going to be the right fit for your dog. Every pet is different and their diet should reflect that. We can help you determine what your dog needs are and how to find the food to help them thrive.
Whether you are looking for the right diet for your new dog, or you're wondering if the food you’re currently feeding your dog is providing appropriate nutrition, this guide will be a helpful tool to simplify the process of finding the right food for your dog.
After reading this guide, you will be able to:
- Understand the core concepts of canine nutrition and dietary requirements
- Recognize the tricks of pet food labeling and analyze pet foods based on the ingredients panel and packaging claims
- Determine which ingredients will enhance the quality of your dog’s health and which could degrade it
- Choose a dog food that will help manage your dog’s weight, build muscle, and even address the effect that diet can have on some common health concerns
- Understand the needs of your dog at each life stage, and allow them to develop and maintain optimal health
Quality of Food = Quality of Life
The quality of your dog’s food isn’t just about how good it tastes, or how much it costs. High-quality dog foods provide numerous benefits to your dog’s health and give you the peace of mind that you are providing your furry friend with appropriate and complete nutrition.
Here are a few examples of the benefits of choosing a better quality diet for your dog:
- More energy and better metabolism
- Shinier and healthier skin and coat
- Better oral health
- Improved digestion
- Fewer vet visits
- Healthier weight and appropriate muscle development
- Less stool
Dog food is multifaceted, and understanding what to look for in a food will ensure that your dog is healthy, happy, and active at every stage of life. After reading this guide, you can assess your pet’s diets and needs to determine if a diet change would be beneficial.
Each section of this guide will help you to achieve these benefits and more. Here is a brief introduction to each chapter to help you navigate this guide and use it as a helpful reference point going forward:
What do all dogs need?
Domesticated dogs have not veered too far from their ancestors. Although commercial pet foods have come a long way, the core concept remains: meat-rich, natural diets provide energy and nutrients required for the growth and maintenance of your dog.
This chapter will discuss their basic needs as canines and give you a clearer understanding of what role proteins, fats, and carbohydrates play in their bodies. Knowing why your dog’s body requires certain nutrients will help you determine which foods will best accommodate their needs.
Chapter 2. How to Read and Understand Pet Food Labels
Avoiding clever marketing tricks
It’s too easy to be tricked by clever wordplay and marketing lingo, and pet food manufacturers are especially good at this. To truly understand what is in your dog’s food, you need to cut through the marketing haze and take a look at the fine details.
Understanding your pet's food label isn’t always cut and dry, but this chapter will help you understand what red flags to look for. Both the guaranteed analysis and the ingredient list offer more insight into your dog food’s quality than you think.
Learn how to avoid less desirable ingredients to improve your dog’s health and well-being.
Chapter 3. Choosing Dog Food: What Does My Dog Need?
What are your dog’s unique dietary needs?
Every dog is different and their food needs to reflect that. Whether your dog is young or old, skinny or fat, there’s a dog food for that.
Choosing a dog food isn’t as simple as just their weight and age. This chapter will dive into your dog’s breed and genetic predispositions, their activity level and stamina, and even their mental health.
Once you’ve looked at your dog’s current health and lifestyle as a whole, you will have a much better idea of how to choose the most appropriate dog food for them.
Caring for your dog’s development
Their formative years are the most impactful stage in your dog’s life. This stage can have lasting, if not life-long effects on their health, so feeding them the right food will help them grown strong, healthy, and happy.
Learn what a puppy needs to properly develop their muscles, skeletal structure, and most importantly cognitive function. Foods that are suitable for puppies should be more abundant in a number of nutrients and should be able to provide the energy their bodies need to grow and develop.
This chapter will cover not only dietary requirements, but also how to choose the right type of puppy food and analyze their current diet for effectiveness.
Identify and Prevent Reactions
Allergies are a common ailment for dog’s and finding a diet that can stop the itching and scratching can be difficult. We don’t want to helplessly watch our pets suffer, so finding a food that eliminates allergic reactions is important.
In this chapter, we will cover the symptoms of allergies and how to prevent them.
Discover the difference between food allergies and digestive sensitivities, as well as some helpful tips for reducing common reactions. Allergies don’t have to be a headache, and knowing what to look for and how to feed accordingly will improve your dog’s health dramatically.
Curbing the Obesity Epidemic
Your dog’s metabolism may not be as efficient as it could be, and it’s probably because of their food. Diet needs to be balanced with activity, and how many calories are just as important as where those calories come from.
Canine obesity rates are getting out of hand and their diets play a huge role in how their bodies use energy, burn fat, and build muscle. It has been proven that overweight dogs lead shorter and less healthy lives. Take a hard look at your dog’s diet and habits to see if you need to make a change for the better.
Learn how a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can give your dog a new ‘leash’ on life.
Poor digestion = poor health
You may not know how much your dog’s digestive system affects the rest of their body. It feeds nutrients and energy to every system. A compromised digestive system can lead to issues with stool quality, cause pain and discomfort, and even trigger skin reactions.
Unchecked digestive issues can worsen over time and potentially lead to lifelong complications, deficiencies or diseases.
This chapter will provide you with the tools to improve your pet’s digestion through diet and help you identify foods that may be contributing to your dog’s tummy troubles.
Preventative Care for Old Dogs
The last years of their life are the most delicate, and choosing a healthy diet can ward off some of the damaging effects of time. We want our dogs to be happy and healthy for as long as possible, so feed them the best food to give them the best life.
This final chapter will help you vitalize your senior pet by improving their digestion, weight, appetite, and activity levels. Learn how to identify senior symptoms, and when to start making adjustments to support your ageing pet.
What’s in the food is very important, but the format of the food can change how well the diet suits your dog. Learn the different types of dog food available, and decide which one will help your dog thrive.
Feeding guidelines can be inaccurate. Our handy calorie calculator tool will show you how many calories your dog needs to stay fit and active at each stage of life. How you feed can impact their weight, muscle, and digestion and this article will help you determine if you are feeding your pet right.
What are you waiting for?
Now that you know what to look for in a dog food, take a thorough look at your pet’s current diet to decide if it’s time for a change. With these tools, you should feel confident in your pet food choices, and help your dog live their best and healthiest life.
What have you learned about your dog's need? Let us know if you found this guide helpful, share your thoughts, successes, and stories in the comments below!
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.